Saturday, October 8, 2011

a wonderful adventure in a jibless mirror

I'm a bit slow on the up-take. Every small boat enthusiast has heard of Sandy Mackinnon's voyage in a Mirror dinghy, but I hadn't read the book until just now.

This is the true story (give or take some artistic license) of an impossible trip which is radically under-planned and supremely under-resourced in a totally inadequate piece of equipment, beginning on a river in North Shropshire England, and ending at the blunt end of Bulgaria on the Black Sea. The stuff of every small boat sailor's dreams.

The charm of the book is partly in the self-effacing humor of our lone adventurer, and his capacity to portray the daily improbabilities of his task as minor glitches caused by personal failure, when in reality his blind faith and complete commitment to living out a boyish dream as an adult is an absolute triumph of the adventurous spirit that most of us would dearly love to have, or  never have lost.

This is Wind In The Willows on steroids, with the most charming hand drawn illustrations, and some really powerful and evocative prose smudged within the mishaps. I will really miss this book, and I have been reading it as slowly as dignity will allow...and I'm determined to read it again ( I never do that normally).

It is one thing to take a boat on a wild and exciting adventure, it is quite another to have the ability to tell the story so sweetly and with such humility and humor. 

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